Author: Jodi Meadows
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
May Contain Spoilers
Ana is new. For thousands of years in Range, a million souls have been reincarnated over and over, keeping their memories and experiences from previous lifetimes. When Ana was born, another soul vanished, and no one knows why.
Jodi Meadows expertly weaves soul-deep romance, fantasy, and danger into an extraordinary tale of new life.
Incarnate is one of the more hyped books for the winter, and I was very eager to dive into the narrative. This is an interesting take on the dystopian genre, which is which is one of my favorites. In Ana’s world, there are one million souls, and they have been re-incarnated for thousands of years. When Ana is born, however, she is a new soul. A nosoul. Nobody knows where she came from. People are a bit afraid of her. In order for her to exist, another soul had to disappear, so people aren’t happy that she’s joined them. Her life means someone else’s permanent death, and a shocking shake up of the status quo.
Ana is left in the care of her mother, Li, a fierce woman who wants nothing to do with her. Unlike other children, Ana is a blank slate. She has no memories of her previous lives, because she has none. What a terrible disadvantage for her to have to deal with! While her peers are heading off on their own to continue the lives that they had temporarily left, Ana has no skills, no prospects, no expectations of things getting better for her. Li is a cruel and detached caregiver. She doesn’t see the sense in putting any effort into her duty when Ana probably only has one life. Why become invested in someone who will only be around for the blink of an eye.
This is the aspect that I found the most fascinating about the book. Everyone is thousands of years old. Everyone has a history with everyone else. Everyone but Ana. She is truly an infant to these people; young, ignorant, a disturbance in their carefully ordered society. She doesn’t fit anywhere, and people are not shy about letting her know that. They are dismissive of her, because they don’t know if she will be reincarnated after she dies, and they don’t think it’s worth their time to get to know her for her blip of a life. The concept of a life not being worth much because it will likely be only about 70 years is a little disturbing. While I understand the point of view of the citizens of Heart, I just can’t reconcile myself to anyone’s life being insignificant or worthless. What a sobering concept for me.
I did find Ana occasionally trying. After Sam saves her life and becomes her guardian, Ana worried about him treating her the same way Li did. Sam never once showed an inclination to slap, hit, or otherwise punish her, so when she continued to shy away from him and push him away after spending so much time under his protection, I started to get a sense of overkill. Li was a horrible mother; we got that message from the first chapter, when she gives Ana a broken compass and sends her on her journey to Heart – in the wrong direction.
That one quibble was about my only complaint with this story. I loved the world-building, and found the concept of everyone being continually reincarnated fascinating. I also loved the mix of fantasy creatures that harried the people of Range. I am looking forward to the next installment of the series, because I have so many questions that weren’t answered in Incarnate, and I am hopeful that some of them will be addressed in the next book. Most important – where did everyone come from, and how are they being reincarnated?
Review copy provided by publisher